Defending Champs Haslerud and Yeager Back in Front at MGA Senior Four-Ball

September 21, 2021
By Nick Hunter

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. – Posting a 6-under 65 in familiar surroundings Monday at Southview Country Club, the twosome of David Haslerud and Matthew Yeager finished the opening round of the 48th Minnesota Golf Association Senior Amateur Four-Ball on top of the leaderboard, looking to become the first back-to-back champions in nearly 20 years.
 
The defending champions got off to a quick start with a flurry of four birdies over their first six holes and cruised to an opening round 65 to take a one-stroke lead over the team of J.T. Johnson and Tom Whaley.
 
“It’s always great to be back at Southview,” said Yeager, a former member at Southview who now plays out of Minnesota Valley Country Club. “We had some success in the best-ball format, which is always nice to draw upon. We both played pretty solid golf and it’s nice to have both guys putting for birdie in a four-ball.”
 
“Obviously, playing at the home course lends itself to a comfort zone for us,” Haslerud said following his opening round Monday. “Just knowing the subtle breaks on the greens was very helpful. We both played better on the front nine than the back. For me personally, I was able to take advantage of my length off the tee to have some nice wedge shots into the greens.”
 
Monday’s first round was delayed by two hours due to inclement weather before being suspended again at 6:57 p.m. due to darkness with four teams yet to finish their first round. Play will resume Tuesday at 8 a.m., followed by the final 18 holes of play.
 
Yeager started the scoring Monday by sinking a 15-footer for birdie at the par-3 second before Haslerud dropped a 30-footer for birdie at the third to quickly move the two to 2-under for the round.
 
Yeager continued the hot start by reaching the par-5 third in two and two-putting for birdie. Hitting his approach to six feet at the sixth, Haslerud converted his birdie chance before the two gave back a stroke with a bogey at the eighth. Yeager countered with a 12-footer at the ninth to put his twosome at 4-under for the tournament.
 
Slowing their pace slightly over the final nine holes Monday, Haslerud sank his birdie opportunity from eight feet at the par-4 11th and Yeager would tap-in for birdie at the last to put the two on top of the leaderboard at 6-under 65 with 18 holes to play.
 
“We left some shots out on the course, but all-in-all a solid start,” Yeager said. “It’s a great field—we will have to continue to make a bunch of birdies.”
 
“Given how we played today, we are both optimistic for tomorrow,” added Haslerud. “Really looking forward to playing with [Johnson and Whaley]. I expect it will be a heck of a battle.”
 
A late birdie by Haslerud at last year’s championship helped the two to a one-stroke victory over 2019 champions Jim Lehman and Jerry Rose at Southern Hills Golf Club. The win was Haslerud’s first since claiming the 2017 MGA Senior Amateur Championship at Island View Golf Club.
 
Last year’s championship was the first for Yeager in more than 10 years, winning the Northland Invitational in 2008. Yeager’s first state win came in 1999, claiming the MGA Amateur Four-Ball with partner J.B. Lloyd at Olympic Hills Golf Club.

Jerry Gruidl and Robert Leaf were the last to successfully defend their title at the championship, winning the 2002 tournament at Keller Golf Club and again the following year at Mille Lacs Golf Resort. 
 
Beginning on the 10th tee Monday, Johnson, who enters the week with a win at the Minnesota Public Golf Association Senior Public Links Championship earlier this season, birdied the par-4 11th before Whaley carded three birdies over the next four holes to turn in 2-under following a pair of bogeys.

Johnson started the scoring once again on the back nine, carding an eagle at the par-5 third hole and Whaley would take advantage of his birdie chance at the sixth to put the twosome in the clubhouse one shot off the lead with a round of 5-under 66.
 
The twosome of Jon Empanger and Jeff Teal opened Monday’s championship with a round of 4-under par 67 and will begin Tuesday’s final round in a tie for third, two shots back of the lead with the team of MGA Senior Amateur champion John Brellenthin and Tim Peterson, as well as the pairing of John Anderson and Bill Tadewald.
 
The 48th MGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship concludes Tuesday with final-round tee times beginning at 8 a.m. at Southview Country Club.
 
 
 

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter is entering his tenth season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA's website. He resides in New Prague with his wife, Amber, and two sons.

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